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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD000520.

Injectable gold for rheumatoid arthritis.

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  • 1Health Services Research, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Mailbox Station 152, 2002 Holcombe Blvd, Houston, Texas 77024, USA.



To estimate the short-term benefit and risk of side-effects of injectable gold for rheumatoid arthritis.


We searched the Cochrane Musculoskeletal Group trials register, and Medline, up to July 1997, using the search strategy developed by the Cochrane Collaboration (Dickersin 1994). The search was complemented with bibliography searching of the reference list of the trials retrieved from the electronic search. Key experts in the area were contacted for further published and unpublished articles.


Randomized clinical trials (RCT) comparing injectable gold against placebo in patients with rheumatoid arthritis were included.


Methodological quality of the RCTs was asessed by two reviewers (MS, BS) (kappa=1.0). Rheumatoid arthritis outcome measures were extracted by two reviewers from the publications for the 6 month endpoint. Sufficient data was obtained to conduct a pooled analysis of the number of swollen joints, physician global assessment, patient global assessment and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR). Results were analyzed as standardized weighted mean differences for swollen joints and global assessments and weighted mean differences for ESR. Toxicity was evaluated with pooled odds ratios for withdrawals. Heterogeneity was estimated using a chi-square test. Fixed effects models were used throughout.


Four trials and 415 patients were included. A statistically significant benefit was observed for injectable gold when compared to placebo. The standardized weighted difference (effect size) between gold and placebo for the number of swollen joints was -0.5, translating into a percentage change of 30% in favour of gold adjusted for placebo. Statistically significant differences were also observed for ESR and patient and physician assessments. Twenty two percent of the treated patients withdrew from toxicity compared to 4% of controls (OR=3.9 - 95%Cl: 2.1 - 7.2).


Although its use can be limited by the incidence of serious toxicity, injectable gold has an important clinically and statistically significant benefit in the short term treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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